Just as the world was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, local houseplant shop Plantstay was preparing to launch into the local Gainesville area.
Finally, after months of anticipation and delays, the shop opened Sept. 3, 2020. After a successful first year in business, Plantstay has decided to go all out for their one-year celebration — or, as the shop would refer to it, their “birthday party.”
Plantstay is located at 3739 W University Ave, and it’s open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m..
The original idea for Plantstay came from plant director Bren Strickland’s love of plants and a lack of such a shop in the Gainesville area.
“There was nowhere in Gainesville where you could go and get answers to plant questions, find really interesting plants, and kinda get that help of how to care for them, how to raise them, and that's the space we wanted to create,” Strickland said.
Strickland’s intense admiration for plants didn’t develop until later on in life. While she always enjoyed plants, she said she was “pretty terrible with them,” and she would often kill them before she took them to her mom for rescue. It wasn't until she landed a job at a landscaping company where she nurtured her love and knowledge of plants.
After seven years of working for marketing and as a sales coordinator for the landscaping company, Strickland left the job behind to pursue her goal of creating a houseplant shop.
In the early stages of establishing Plantstay as a business, Strickland would open a few pop-up shops where she would begin to have an “established customer base.” Though the preparations started months before the opening, there were hiccups along the way.
“We were planning to do this before the pandemic started,” Strickland said. “We thought, ‘This isn't going to happen now.’”
Even though they had to delay opening for a few months, Plantstay was able to open in the midst of a pandemic. As Strickland pointed out, the pandemic caused the popularity of plants to skyrocket, ensuring Plantstay a successful opening followed by a profitable first year.
Strickland said this boom in plant popularity has occurred because, as people were locked away at home, plants served as something “comforting, something to nurture, something to enhance your space.”
While the pandemic helped this business flourish over its first year, Strickland said it also had its drawbacks.
Despite the fact that the pandemic caused plant popularity to “explode,” as she would put it, she said it has also served as a challenge when it came to sourcing plants, as everyone seemingly wants to buy plants now.
Kayli Figueroa echoed Strickland’s sentiments, explaining that the store’s increase in popularity amid the pandemic wasn’t without its growing pains. She said that the decision on when to allow in-person shopping was difficult to make.
“When we first opened it was a struggle to navigate, ‘At what point do we start forming a line outside?’” Figueroa said.
Figueroa also mentioned how “keeping everyone safe” while still trying to interact and engage with customers in such a small shop has been an issue in the past year.
Yet, these challenges haven't slowed down the store’s growth. Currently, Plantstay offers a broad range of services, including plant and pot sales, plant care and gardening workshops, installation services and even consultations, where a member from the Plantstay team will go into your home and help you with “styling and recommendations, lighting analysis, and detailed plant care.”
While Strickland isn't ready to reveal what the future holds for Plantstay, she did hint at an evolution for the business, which she would refer to as “Plantstay 2.0.”
For their one-year anniversary, Plantstay is celebrating during the weekend of Sept.3rd. They’ve partnered with other local businesses in the area, such as Earth Tonix and The Ross Cookie Kitchen, to give away 100 gift bags with cookies, wax melts and even free plants.
“We’re going to have a rare plant extravaganza and we’re also going to have PattiCan wagons,” Strickland said.
While she’s thrilled about the giveaway, Figueroa said that one of the other things she’s excited about is reminiscing with loyal customers about all the great memories they’ve had in the shop. One of the main reasons Strickland began her massively popular workshops was to “create a space” for the plant community, and that’s what she hopes to expand on with Plantstay 2.0.
To describe her first year with Plantstay in just a few words, Strickland recited one of her favorite phrases, said to her by one of her clients: “What is loved and nurtured will grow.” Much like most of the plants in Plantstay, which are meticulously nurtured by Strickland and the rest of her crew, the shop itself has been able to flourish in an environment of fondness and adoration.
With the love of the community and its loyal customers, Plantstay has been able to establish itself as a staple of the Gainesville plant scene in just one year. Plantstay commemorates that growth Sept. 3-5 in a celebration of triumph, joy and love.
Contact Luigi at email@example.com.
Luigi is a third-year media production, management, and technology major at UF and is currently one of the multimedia editors for the Alligator. Prior to his editor position, Luigi was a staff writer under the Avenue as well as the podcast producer for Rowdy Magazine. In his free time, he likes to read up and investigate the most obscure fun facts that would interest no one else.